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Lizzie
Page 15


The gaining of respect from the local people in her job with the attorney was the thing to cause her heartache with Narcisse who began to feel she was less dependent on him. His manhood stood an awful shaking in those days shortly after the turn of the century. A woman was just not ordinarily this aggressive as to go out to work in a man's world at the turn of the century. Even though he knew she worked at Chilocco as a matron, this was different. This was off the beaten track as far as the ways of the people were concerned, and even then their authority ruled. This was especially true in these very small communities like Ponca City.

Elizebeth knew Narcisse was not liking this arrangement and when she became pregnant she was all too happy to let her husband know she was soon to be giving Mr. Comstock notice.

"Narcisse, I have given Mr. Comstock notice. I can no longer work while it will be obvious I am having a child. I'd be too embarrassed to continue."

Narcisse looked off into the distance and as was his way, he swore. "Well, Lizzie, I didn't think you ever would quit." Narcisse used his strong language rarely around Lizzie because she would not tolerate it, but this time it seemed to fit the circumstance, and she said nothing.

Lizzie named her son first son Edward Richard Pensoneau after a brother of Narcisse's grandfather, the Frenchman, Pasquel Pensoneau.  She named her daughter, Velma Louise, she had two years later, after another brother of Pasquel's,  Louis or Louison.  After her children were born she would on occasion still help Mr. Comstock in his office when he needed an interpreter. Most of time now,  however, was spent with her children.  Her happiness was complete except for a change coming over Narcisse.

She was an outstanding wife and mother, who was continually busy with her children, housework, and caring for her blind brother, Henry.  She had taken him into her home and he had agreed to leave his land to her in a will.

Lizzie wasn't too, busy to notice Narcisse was not happy. He had begun to take part in rowdy parties. Often he did not return to their home for days at a time. Sometimes, Lizzie knew he had been with other women and she began to mourn deep within her soul. As she plodded through her chores the mother in her could find a moment of pleasure in something one of the children had done. Then stop, only to feel with renewed anguish the heartbreak of Narcisse's deserting their sacred vows. It seemed she moved through the days as a person in a dream. She was there, walking about doing all the things required of her.  But, she felt, some protective force had come in to surround her, in order to keep  her from feeling sorrow. She began not to have any joy associated with her children.  It seemed she could reach out away from that force for a moment only to have it weigh on her heavier than before when her thoughts opened up recalling what was hurting her. She felt as blind as her brother, grouping about, feeling her way, trying to protect her steps lest she stumble over something she could not see. Only at a time of death had she experienced a similar feeling. This was worse than death though, for she could not mourn as one who had lost a loved one in a permanent separation. She would lift her hands to do her chores and even they felt heavy as if removed from her body. There were times when she bowed her head and shuddered at the will power she forced upon her mind to continue. She could not let despair overcome her. She still felt a strong force binding her to Narcisse and now as she was going through the motions of doing her evening dishes, somehow she knew he was on the road, coming towards the house.

Suddenly, instead of despair, she felt anger. How dare he bring this evil into her heart. How dare he let this family be touched by the ugliness of this. In the few more minutes it took before Narcisses's buggy rode up to the door, Lizzie brought herself to the full anger a woman could experience at this man's weaknesses and his breach of faith. She picked up the tea towel she used to dry her dishes and instead dried her hands on it. As deliberately as she would walk toward a fierce animal she strode through the door of the house unto the front porch. Pausing there for a moment she looked directly at her husband and she could see he was drunk. It took only a few steps for her to cover the distance from the porch to the buggy. In one easy movement she reached for the buggy whip. As was the character of her family to strike suddenly without warning or wasting words she lashed at him with the whip. In his drunkenness he was no match for her. He still tried to grab the whip away. Only for an instant did she hesitate when her blind brother came from inside the house out onto the front porch.

"No! Meka-Thee-Ing-Gay! No don't." He pleaded with her to stop. She ignored him and acted quickly while Narcisse was stepping down out of the buggy.  She lashed at the rumps of the horses and set them in motion. Narcisse was kept busy holding them steady while they tore away from the angry woman.

"I won't come back!" Narcisse's face was twisted with rage as he called back to her over his shoulder.

"Don't come back! Don't you ever come back!" Lizzie hunched down in a bent over heap and wept into her hands. "Don't ever come back. Don't ever, not ever."

In the days to follow Lizzie knew the loneliness of Narcisses's departure. She wept alone at night after she put her children to bed and then silently without making a sound, so as not to grieve her brother.

During the day Edward often asked for his father. "Mama, I'm going to the barn. I think I heard Dad come home." He told his mother. In a brave three year old way, he walked to the barn to look for his Dad. In the time it took for him to go and return from the barn, Lizzie saw to it, she grieved in the short time he was gone. Silently she screamed, holding the front of her dress in her fists over her heart. For only a moment did she allow herself this partial loss of control. Her daughter was only six months old and Lizzie knew she must not let her heart be so torn as to bring upon herself an illness. As well as she knew of Narcisses's approach, she now knew his absence. Her husband would not return. No one told her, she heard nothing by return mail, but she knew he wouldn't be back.

“Brother Henry." Lizzie spoke to her brother. "Brother, I must go see our sisters over past the One Hundred One Ranch. Do you think you can stay here alone for the time that it will take me to go over there?"

"Yes, Lizzie, go see our sisters. You must go." Henry agreed. "I will be all right. Don't worry about me. Go today."

With these words from her brother, Lizzie was busy readying her children for the trip by buggy to go  visit her sisters. She put her brother's food and water out on the table where he could easily find it and then carefully checked the floor where he walked to see there was nothing in his way as he followed his little path about the house.

"Brother, I am leaving now. I hope you will be all right here, alone. If any trouble comes up, step out on the porch and holler real loud. Mr. Story Teller said that he would listen today, in case you need help."

"I will be fine, Sister. Go on, you must see our sisters. They need to know that you are alone here. We are too close to the 101 and the Big V ranches. There are just too many of those rough cowboys about. A woman alone here is not good. Go, go on.  Let your sisters and their husbands know."

Lizzie heard a step on the porch and she knew it must be Mr. Story Teller, her neighbor, from across the road. Grover Story Teller and his wife lived quietly.  They  had observed the young woman's plight. The couple was of the Ponca tribe also. They had an interest in Lizzie, although they were not related. Mr. Story Teller had offered to harness her horses for her and this is what he came to do.

As Lizzie hurriedly took her children to the buggy, Mr. Story Teller lifted young Edward up to the seat and held the baby, Velma, while Lizzie took her place on the buggy seat.

"I thank you so much Sir, for your kindness."  Lizzie spoke first in English and then again in their language, making sure her neighbor knew she was grateful.

Without hesitating any further she clucked to the horses and she was off toward her sister's home, past the 101 ranch. She needed to travel over the Salt Fork River and yet some miles more. As the horses clip clopped along they held a steady pace. Lizzie looked back to see the gentle rhythm and rocking motion of the buggy had put the baby to sleep.

The light little buggy moved on steadily. Less weight made the horse's work easier. This gave her the freedom to glance over toward the large ranch on her right, the Vancellous “Big V.” The buildings set back a way from the road. She could see there was much activity around the store. This store had pulled people in from all around. It was a place where they could purchase many of their needed items rather than having to go all the way into town. It was also a meeting place for many of the local people who wanted to catch up on any daily gossip going around. Soon the lone woman was past the line of vision of the ranch and now she gave the buggy to the horses and let them carry her along as they followed the road. Lizzie watched the little puffs of dust the horses kicked up as their hooves moved along the sandy, dusty road.

The classy, sharp, light weight buggy was coming in closer to the 101 and she knew to expect to meet other buggies. It was necessary to keep her horses well to the right of the road. The gentlemen she met tipped their hats to her and she modestly accepted their respect with a nod of her head. Not once did she turn her head away from her job of driving the horses.

After she rounded the corner, she was now in sight of the huge 101 Ranch owned by the Miller brothers. There had been a small congregating around the Big V.  Here at the Miller Brother's 101 the  store was as busy as a town. Cowboys in their boots and Stetson hats mingled on the front porch of the store. Too, there were many of the Native men who lived in the area. Their clothing consisted of the soft colorful shirts their wives had sewn for them.  The style following the drop shouldered style the Scotts had introduced into their culture. Their hats were of the beaver, Stetson style too, but worn in a different fashion. They did not crease or shape them as the cowboys did.  Instead, they wore them just as they bought them with no shaping of the hat into any style.


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